Race Recap – Detroit Free Press Marathon
“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Detroit Free Press Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
For my to the point review, check out bibrave.com
Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Bibrave tank, Brooks Ghost, Garmin Fenix 3, Boco Gear Visor, Spi Belt, Road Runner Sports shorts, Zensah socks, Road ID, xx2i France 2, Aftershokz Trekz Air
Sunday, October 15, 2017. The race started at 7:00 am. It was cloudy and humid, expected wind gusts of 40mph. The race was run alongside the international half marathon and the marathon relay.
Josh and I arrived early to our parking ramp, and sat in the car for a while. We weren’t sure what the traffic situation would be and got their early to avoid any problems. We had coffee in the hotel, but ate Nugo bars in the car.
Pre-race emails said we needed to carry our passports and runners with water bottles were subject to search. This created a problem for me, while I like Gatorade to run with, I also like to carry my hydration pack – 1) so I can drink when I want 2) to carry anything I want 3) bring the food I like to eat. IMO, this makes the race a hassle…what if you are allergic to Gatorade? I also like to bring real food and candy as I don’t do gels. Where do I carry that? Plus my passport? I made all this work with my Spi Belt for my phone and passport, then used the pockets in my shorts for gummis and a waffle.
Around 6 am, we left to walk over to the starting area. I had told the Bibrave Pros I was headed that way, so we could meet up for a picture.
The area was congested. The race had corrals at the start, with suggested crossroads to enter to get to them. There were port-o=potties on these cross roads, but always seems like there was never enough, as lines snaked around. Gear check was in the finisher area, not near the starting entrances… so if you weren’t too early you had to find a way to get there and to your corral through the people.
I met up with the pros, we wished each other good luck, and I thought I would try to find a port-o-potty to use… no luck, lines were still long. So, I just decided to get to my corral, corral K. Of course, I was on the wrong cross road and to get there, I was “swimming up stream.” So, I went out and around a block, to enter the correct way.
I stopped on my way to listen to the Canadian National Anthem and the US National Anthem, sung live.
I got to my corral, and there was no one checking bibs at the entry. Another thing I was searching for was a time that the corrals closed, or a time to be in them. I couldn’t find anything… there was just a lot of congestion.
I did chit chat with an older gentleman who was running his first marathon. He won the battle with throat cancer and no longer produces saliva. His bib said “Bob’s Bucket List.” I wished him luck as we moved forward.
As we got closer to the start, I noticed I was now in corral L. Being slower it really doesn’t make a huge difference to me, however if you are going to insist on a waved, corralled start, it needs to be policed better. There was so much congestion.
I really didn’t have a huge goal going into this race. I did have a great last 20 mile run and I felt good going into the race. My PR is just under 5 hours, so I thought… heck stick to something in that range. I even made a playlist…I still put it on shuffle, but I knew it was songs that would keep me moving.
When I finally crossed the starting line I noticed the 5:10 pacer. I love the idea of pacers, let them do the work for you…just stick next to them. I was going to try and hang with this group for a while.
The first few miles are through an industrial section of town, it leads up to the bridge crossing into Canada just after mile 3. It was interesting to observe the amount of Border Patrol in this area. They were on the course checking to make sure each runner had a bib. There were even officers along the side with giant guns. Security was tight.
Climbing the bridge ramp, I left the pacer…they were going to slow up this ramp for me. I got to the deck of the bridge and it was still very crowded. It didn’t help the amount of people who were just stopping in the center of the bridge for a selfie – move to the side. Also, I have never ran a race where runners from behind said excuse me to snake through the crowd. There was no where to go.
After we came off the bridge, the crowd started to thin just a little bit, only because runners ran through the border patrol booths. However, a hydration station was soon after this and it was chaos again.
There were numerous aid stations on the course. They had water and Gatorade, with paper cups. However, many were a hot mess… you weren’t sure what you were getting. There were no flags or signs telling you. There were 2 different cups, but not always the water in the Gatorade cup. Also the first stop what Gatorade mixed in with water, and the others Gatorade was second. I know these are all manned by volunteers, but I am sure at some point they are told what to do. *Also is the new Gatorade formula different, I wasn’t liking it.
Ok, so where were we? Running in Canada…this was nice, we ran along the waterfront and through the town only for a few miles. There were many spectators out, all cheering for us. Even when we came to go back across the border, the officers were cheering for us too.
Just after mile 7 we were in the underwater tunnel headed back to the USA. I believe this is the only race you run underwater. I was not looking forward to this part, I really don’t like tunnels. The course narrowed back to 2 lanes, so it was congested again. The surface was asphalt and was wet and slippery. This is also another part where people would stop and take selfies… UGH. I just wanted to get out! It was so stuffy too. It was cool when we first entered, the chanting and shouting.
At mile 8 we were welcomed back into the USA. There was a large group of spectators here along with more border patrol. There was also a small climb out of the tunnel, but nothing too bad.
From here on out the race is back on US soil. I also was feeling good, and really using my music to stay focused on moving forward. I did need to use the bathroom, but kept moving as each port-o-potty area still had a line. It wasn’t until mile 15 I found a bank of port-o-potties with no line, ah relief.
I was trying to fuel every 5 miles, but I also wanted to drink at least water when I ate something, so this threw that strategy off just a bit. I ate half a waffle at mile 6, the rest at mile 11, then opened the bag of gummis just before I used the bathroom at mile 15. Also, some where in these miles there was a church giving out bananas. *I wish this was known ahead of time, or the race provided fruit or candy.
Miles 16-18, I like to call this area Octoberfest. It was a residential neighborhood and the residents were out in full force. Music and beer! At this point in my race I was still feeling good, so I did not stop to drink some beer. I should have grabbed some of the candy though.
I think it was just after 18 or so when the lead runner for the US Only half marathon passed me. This event starts after the International events, but uses some of the same course. If I were running the US half, I would be mad that all the slower runners were in my way. Yes, there was a lead bike getting people to move, but it was still not ideal.
It was time to go out to Bell Isle. Mile 20-22 were run on this island, and since the race cuts off access to the public, there are no spectators out there. I do remember Eminem came on my music as I was crossing the bridge out to the island, so I was still feeling good heading into mile 20. I was feeling even better when I got off the bridge and Team World Vision had orange slices. Yes, more of this on the course please!!!
I am sure I crossed a timing mat out here, and then out of no where, I saw the 5:10 pacer …ahead of me…huh? Well maybe they passed me when I was in the bathroom? Then it was mind games…so that took me through mile 21.
I just kept going, off the island and it was time for the home stretch back into downtown. UGH!!!! This was along the waterfront, and we had a head wind….with those 40 mph gusts as planned. That was when the wheels fell off… I didn’t do any resistance training, and it was hard. It also didn’t help that the running surface turned to brick at this time too, and there were some rain sprinkles. I will say this, my Boco Gear visor never budged in the wind!
I then was running back and forth with the 5:10 pacer… and I overheard him say that he was no longer on time, but close to 5:26. Even pacers have a bad day.
I kept battling to the finish line, running, walking, laughing at myself…the wind was tough! My watch was also way off, with all the weaving in and out of people at the start, I did not run the tangents, so it was long. In my mind I was like… I can run the last mile… but it really wasn’t the last mile.
A lady did recognize my orange BibRave shirt and said she follows along on twitter. It was nice to chat, but I just didn’t have it in me to finish with her. I struggled all the way to my 5:27 finish…but hey a finish is a finish.
When I crossed the finish line, a volunteer placed a medal around my neck. There was a table set up with small water bottles and cups of Gatorade. I took 2 bottles of water. There was a heat sheet area, but volunteers had a hard time wrestling them in the wind. After this a volunteer was handing out small bottles of chocolate milk.
The finish chute was long and I was wondering where the food was, then out of a no where a volunteer came walking towards me with a pre-filled bag of goods. Always nice when your hands are already full to have a bag.
There was also a backdrop set up here to take finisher photos, the wind was moving it around. While there were a couple photographers set up here, no one invited me over…. and I knew pictures were not free, so I didn’t stop. I did stop near this area to chat with BibRave Pro Dane on the outside of the fence, and another runner came up to me to take her photo, but instructed me to NOT get the backdrop as that was not allowed. You had to pay for that photo, as well as any other photos from race day. *As I write this, I still haven’t purchased any photos and I don’t plan to.
I took the time to read the race guide the night before, I noticed the finisher area (the gear check area I mentioned before was here.) There was a marked “beer” among the other areas of merchandise, food trucks, relay reunion, and runner massage.
Josh magically appeared and told me I had no reason to go to the post race area. While I believed him, I knew I had to write a review, so I went to check it out.
I am not sure it was the weather, but there was no post race party. Or maybe slow runners do not get the same post race? The merchandise was sold out – which can be a good thing. The beer was $5 and went to a charity. Great, it went to charity…however, out of all the races I have run with advertised beer, it has never been a separate purchase. So, we left to go find a place to sit… any race with a post race seat is my favorite, and those are rare.
Josh and I wondered back to the direction of the car We saw a Shake Shack and thought we would stop there, however the line was really long. We went to a nearby coffee shop and had our own post race party. It was also nice to sit down and discuss our races.
We had to get back on the road, we were staying at a hotel down the road, and then would finish the trip home the next day.
When we arrived to our next destination in Michigan City, IN, the first thing we did was look for a brewery, we were getting that post race beer!
We woke up early – again – the next day to get through Chicago traffic, and made it back home just before 10 am.
Overall: I guess I would still recommend you do this race, it’s just not for me. Running in and out of Canada was fun, and the course itself is relatively flat and marked well and the race medal is great! However, the passport and hydration pack situation is just too much of a hassle for me. The lack of real food on course and no free beer are part of those little things that wont have me returning. With so many race options in the fall, I am going to do one that makes me feel as special as the first runner to cross the finish line.